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West African leaders agree new single currency plan

National flags of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states fly at the Kotoka Internatinal Airport in Accra, Ghana, on September 15, 2020   -  
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West African leaders present at a summit in Ghana on Saturday agreed a new road map to launch a single currency in 2027.

The bloc had planned to launch a common currency this year but postponed the plan due to challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou said the pandemic had upset plans to implement the convergence pact.

"We have a new road map and a new convergence pact that will cover the period between 2022-2026, and 2027 being the launch of the eco," he said.

The currency, known as ECO aims to replace the CFA Franc used in former French colonies. Proponents of the ECO say it will help countries break dependence and exploitation by on Paris.

But some countries such as Nigeria and Ivory Coast have been accused of dragging their feet on the issue.

The summit also discussed Mali's political crisis. 

The bloc suspended Mali after a coup that toppled the country's transitional government in late May. 

Junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita has since been sworn in as president and activist Choguel Maiga as prime minister.

But the summit did not lift Bamako's suspension despite noting 'positive developments'.

Goita has vowed to stick to the old transition schedule which prescribes elections and a return to civilian rule in February 2022.